After 25 years of fandom and one airline misadventure, an avid Beyoncé fan finally met Queen Bey at her Renaissance World Tour stop in Arlington Thursday night.
Jon Hetherington, 34, who has cerebal palsey and relies on an electric wheelchair, had a ticket to Beyoncé’s Seattle concert Sept. 14. But when Hetherington got to Mahlon Sweet Field in Eugene, Oregon, the airline told him his wheelchair was four inches too tall, according to the New York Times.
An airbus could accommodate his needs, and the next available flight was 12 hours later. He’d make it to Seattle but miss the show. Deflated, Hetherington turned to TikTok to express his frustrations, where the video went viral. Beyoncé fans responded, pleading with the singer to help.
The queen heard the call of the Beyhive. Beyoncé’s team, who not only got Hetherington a ticket for her show at AT&T Stadium in in Arlington, but a flight as well, according to the New York Times. This time, both Hetherington and his wheelchair made it to North Texas.
After Hetherington’s video exploded, he not only saw Beyoncé perform but also met the singer in-person.
How airlines say they can help travelers with wheelchairs
Hetherington told the New York Times that he does not fault the airlines, saying the problem is larger than one airline. America was not built to be inclusive, he said, rendering people with disabilities invisible.
A majority of airlines will accommodate wheelchair users on flights, but in some cases, people need to contact the airlines in advance to make sure the airplane assigned to their flight can accommodate their equipment. Here’s what we know:
American Airlines gate or reservation agents can help with wheelchair on-boarding before and after a flight.
Electric wheelchairs are available to be stored on American Airlines flights. Storage area doors on American flights are 25 inches tall and 40 inches wide. If the wheelchair is larger than those dimensions, travelers need to contact the reservations desk ahead of time at 800-433-7300.
United Airlines has a wheelchair calculator to determine if they can fit the equipment on the airplane.
Travelers need to enter in their wheelchair height and width into the calculator to determine what type of plane can accomodate the wheelchair. People can also call United ahead of time to schedule additional wheelchair assistance at 1-800-228-2744.
Delta Airlines has a similar wheelchair calculator to determine what planes can accommodate the equipment.
Passengers can enter their wheelchair dimensions to find what size aircraft can accommodate them. For further wheelchair assistance at the airport, Delta representatives can be reached at 404-209-3434.
Southwest passengers can notify the airline ahead of time if they plan to travel with a wheelchair.
During booking, passengers can visit the “Passenger and Payment Info” tab to add the wheelchair. For further wheelchair assistance, passengers can call Southwest at 1-800-435-9792.
Spirit Airlines passengers can also schedule wheelchair assistance when booking a flight.
Passengers can schedule assistance on the Spirit app or by calling 855-728-3555.